Dragongate first quarter of 2023 in review | Red's Pro-Wrestling Digest 139

I'm gonna be working through Cutting Edge Battle!! episodes, looking at a company that was once my favorite. I do appreciate modern DG, but I can't pretend they are still my favorite fed. Oh well, shit changes. PWG isn't as good as it once was, either.

It's still good. DG is, too. Whatever.

This one starts around the 4-minute mark in ^this video. HERE, if you want to catch the build video. It's a 4 vs 5 losing unit disbands contest that saw Z-Brats' BxB, KAI, Skywalker, Ishin, and H.Y.O. beat Dragon Kid, YAMATO, Ryu, and Cyber Kong resulting in High-End's death.

It didn't take long before this became a 5 on 2, with only YAMATO and Dragon Kid remaining. No worries, because Kagetora would come in to help make it a bit closer on the High-End side and he'd quickly eliminate two (KAI, then H.Y.O.). A minute later, DK put away Ishin.

That period was frantic, but fun.

Honestly, disband matches in DG tend to rock. This was good enough to recommend, but nothing like the usual quality I expect. Oh well, not every hit is a homerun. Likely only super worth the time if you're already someone that is interested in the product, for the record.

The endstretch made this a borderline great contest, so if you just want that section click HERE.

In post, BxB split from his group when he didn't want to continue being a dick. Gold Class offered him a rose in response, ending what was likely the guy's final heel run.

Wanna know who had no problem in still being a douche? Shun Skywalker, that's who. In challenging for the Open the Dream Gate Championship, Skywalker and Yuki had a strong pace, decent drama, and loads of great spots. Honestly, it was a fantastic title match.

Sometimes, the bad guy wins.

Everyone looked good and the entire thing was worthy of a strong recommendation.

I look forward to seeing this reign playout.

Skywalker and KAI were royal dicks in our first match, once again, allowing for Yuki and Kikuta to play from underneath. Gotta love consistency. A good role for the eventual victors considering their energy. I swear, these fuckers must drink a lot of energy drinks whenever they're not working on their cardio. 

In all, this was a good, high energy affair with a decent outcome (D'courage won).

Susumu and Kanda faced BxB and Minoura on the other side. Yasushi would eventually get the winning pin for his side, flashpin style, getting the W over Kota. Another good contest, though admittedly neither felt must-see.

You can jump ahead in the the video above to 4:20 or so. You can click HERE for a timestamped link that should take you directly to the action for match one, as well. The other semi is at 13:00 or you can click HERE. The finals, found in the video pinned below, make up the entire episode so just click and enjoy.

Speaking of, we close with M3K and D'courage. The former started early, attacking their opponents while they were still in the middle of their entrance pageantry. Broadback Kikuta felt as though he was being tested here a bit. I always appreciate how willing the company has often been to push young talent and try things out. I admit that I am going into my DG coverage blind, as I've seen no spoilers and feel the company has far less buzz than in the past here stateside, but I am eager to see which young stars get nods as I move ahead.

The match itself was great.

Susumu was the workhorse as always, but all four played their roles rather well and this revived tournament (this being the first time they've ran Rey de Parejas in like twenty-years) ended on a strong note for sure. This one, if nothing else, was worth your time. Well worth it. The young victors would have a chat with the tag champs at the time to close the episode.

Note that if you are in the mood for more than I've covered, you can go back to to THIS episode and then THIS episode for earlier tournament coverage.

Next stop, we have the Brave Gate strap on the line. For newcomers that just clicked this looking for recommendations, know that the Brave Gate belt is their midcard title and often is held by dudes they are testing for bigger things.

Minorita dropped to Jason Lee in a great, little spotfest. If you're in the mood for a fast moving sprint featuring dudes that are hoping to reach main event status one day, this is for you,.

Boy Mochi continued to grow and was the glue of the Triangle Gate defense of the set, until Ben-K hit the jackhammer. The company is perhaps best known for their style of neckbreak speed infused lucharesu trios bouts and this was a pretty damn good representation of the genre. Fantastic stuff!

We close with Skywalker defending against Strong Machine J.

Click HERE or jump to 6:49 in this last video to start at the Dream Gate defense. Before was a Twin Gate defense if you want more.

Skywalker was in championship mode here and did his best to bring IWRG to Japan. I admittedly find SMJ to be a good worker, but on a good hand kind of way if I am being honest. He was better here than usual, at least. Props. For a throwaway test, he did fine but this really did feel like a filler defense more than anything. Good, but not really must-see in a vacuum and I didn't care for the protected finish much.

I have a weird relationship with this company these days, but this set really was pretty damn fun.

This first quarter was about setting the tone for the year with new champs and continued growth of the younger talent. They succeeded rather brilliantly. Skip the semi-finals (and maybe the SMJ match) and watch the rest. You'll get a good look at the company right now (earlier in the year, at least) and I think if you watch all of that together, it'll collectively serve as a decent starting/jump back in spot, too.

Thanks for reading, watch stuff that you want, and have a badass day. The new BOUT BLITZ should be out in the next day or so, depending on how things go.

All hail, Dream Emperor Skywalker.

Match Ratings

  1. Losing Unit Disbands, Elimination: High-End vs Z-Brats ***1/2
    Episode 166 Rating: 75%
  2. Open the Dream Gate Title: Yoshioka(c) vs Skywalker ****1/4
    Episode 168 Rating: 90%
  3. Semi-final: D'courage vs Z-Brats *** 
  4. Semi-final: M3K vs Gold Class ***
  5. Finals: D'courage vs M3K ****
    Episode 171 Rating: 85%
  6. Open the Brave Gate Title: Minorita(c) vs Lee ***3/4
  7. Open the Triangle Gate Titles: Gold Class(c) vs M3K ****
    Episode 172 Rating: 90%
  8. Open the Dream Gate Title: Skywalker(c) vs Strong Machine J ***1/4

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  1. Hey, what do you think where the best times of Dragon Gate in your opinion? I would like to know because I'm just getting into Dragon Gate and I saw some classic matches in the playlist of DG on Gaora Sports channel at Youtube.

    1. Great question. I feel that the 2015-2019 period was perhaps their best 5 year stretch, but they've had a lot of gold regardless of the year. I actually will be reviewing the GOARA battle library series starting with Digest 150 which comes out early January and think it's a great starting point!